The Power of Your Voice: Teaching Kids They CAN Make a Difference

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I’ve been pondering how we raise politically engaged children. Not necessarily politicians but engaged children who become engaged teenagers who turn into engaged adults. 

At a time of great extremes in politics I think it’s important to ponder. 

What can we do to encourage children to engage with social issues, reflect on their values, and ultimately become active members of our democracy?

I am slightly paraphrasing Rachel Gillman Rischall, the founder of Kids for Justice, who suggests  ‘As a parent, you have the opportunity to shape your family culture around politics. Are you going to have a negative outlook? Is someone always the bad guy?  Is it a finger pointing culture? Or you could flip it and say, ‘We have a culture of curiosity, empowerment, and engagement. We are going to learn, discuss, and explore possibilities’


How about ‘Pausing to Ponder’

Are you teaching your kids to be passive and helpless or are you creating a space for your kids to positively engage with politics and laying the groundwork for future engagement?

Politics affects everything around us – how much we get paid, how our greenspaces are maintained, how our trains and buses run, who fixes the potholes to who decides what children learn in school to who decides our foreign policy and everything in between.

We live in divisive & turbulent times and so encouraging kids to get involved in politics is an excellent way to promote civic engagement and help them become responsible citizens. But it doesn’t mean becoming an activist or a politician – all young people have a right to have their voice heard on matters that affect them and there are many ways for young people to get involved in politics, even if they aren’t yet old enough to vote.

Children are learning from us all the time – whether they are listening to how we react to the News, how we speak about social issues to how we speak about the elderly or those less fortunate than ourselves, or how we talk about global warming, recycling or AI.

They are watching what paper we read, what actions we take and how we  interact in our community, in our society or interact with the world around us.

Here are some very simple ways  you as parents can encourage your children to get involved in politics:

Start with age-appropriate conversations:

Children should have a basic understanding of politics and how it affects their lives. As parents you can start with simple conversations about the political process, such as how elections work, what political parties are, and how laws are made.

Encourage critical thinking:

Encourage children to question what they see and hear in the media, to form their own opinions, and to understand that different people have different perspectives on issues. ‘Talk & Teach’ them to respect other people’s points of view and to disagree agreeably but also to discern when they have to stand up to racism, bigotry, misogyny, lying and unkindness. Teach them the difference between being a participant, a contributor or a bystander.

Take them to vote:

Taking children to vote can be an excellent way to show them how important it is to participate in the political process. Even if they are too young to vote, they can still accompany you to the polling station and watch as you cast your ballot. There’s even a Twitter feed about ‘dogs at polling stations’ to pique their interest #dogsatpollingstations !

Encourage them to get involved in their school council:

A School Council benefits the whole school, pupils and teachers, because it provides opportunities for pupils to communicate their feelings as well as influence decisions that are made within school. Councillors develop skills such as confidence, communication and negotiation. It’s a great place to start.

You play an important role in encouraging your children to get involved in politics by providing them with knowledge and the tools, skills and attributes they need to be active citizens and by modelling responsible and engaged behaviour yourself.

The future needs new ideas, fresh perspectives and compassionate individuals – nurture, encourage and empower your kids as they will play a crucial role in shaping the future of society and help promote positive change wherever they live in the world.

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